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Quote of the day: The first crime of the new reign was the
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book V Chapter 36: Invasion of the Gauls. Envoys at war.[390 BC]
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A peaceable enough mission, had it not contained envoys of a violent temper, more like Gauls than Romans. After they had delivered their instructions in the Council of the Gauls, the following reply was given: "Although we are hearing the name of Romans for the first time, we believe nevertheless that you are brave men, since the Clusines are imploring your assistance in their time of danger. Since you prefer to protect your allies against us by negotiation rather than by armed force, we on our side do not reject the peace you offer, on condition that the Clusines cede to us Gauls, who are in need of land, a portion of that territory which they possess to a greater extent than they can cultivate. On any other conditions peace cannot be granted. We wish to receive their reply in your presence, and if territory is refused us we shall fight, whilst you are still here, that you may report to those at home how far the Gauls surpass all other men in courage." The Romans asked them what right they had to demand, under threat of war, territory from those who were its owners, and what business the Gauls had in Etruria. The haughty answer was returned that they carried their right in their weapons, and that everything belonged to the brave. Passions were kindled on both sides; they flew to arms and joined battle. Thereupon, contrary to the law of nations, the envoys seized their weapons, for the Fates were already urging Rome to its ruin. The fact of three of the noblest and bravest Romans fighting in the front line of the Etruscan army could not be concealed, so conspicuous was the valour of the strangers. And what was more, Quintus Fabius rode forward at a Gaulish chieftain who was impetuously charging right at the Etruscan standards, ran his spear through his side and slew him. Whilst he was in the act of despoiling the body the Gauls recognised him, and the word was passed through the whole army that it was a Roman ambassador. Forgetting their rage against the Clusines, and breathing threats against the Romans, they sounded the retreat.

Some were for an instant advance on Rome. The older men thought that ambassadors should first be sent to Rome to make a formal complaint and demand the surrender of the Fabii [Note 1] as satisfaction for the violation of the law of nations. After the ambassadors had stated their case, the senate, whilst disapproving of the conduct of the Fabii, and recognising the justice of the demand which the barbarians made, were prevented by political interests from placing their convictions on record in the form of a decree in the case of men of such high rank. In order, therefore, that the blame for any defeat which might be incurred in a war with the Gauls might not rest on them alone, they referred the consideration of the Gauls' demands to the people. Here personal popularity and influence had so much more weight that the very men whose punishment was under discussion were elected for the next year. The Gauls regarded this procedure as it deserved to be regarded, namely, as an act of hostility, and after openly threatening war, returned to their people. The other consular tribunes elected with the Fabii were Quintus Sulpicius Longus, Quintus Servilius -- for the fourth time and Publius Cornelius Maluginensis.

Note 1: Fabii = Kaeso Fabius and Numerius Fabius

Event: The Gauls threaten Clusium

Mitis legatio, ni praeferoces legatos Gallisque magis quam Romanis similes habuisset. Quibus postquam mandata ediderunt in concilio [Gallorum] datur responsum, etsi nouum nomen audiant Romanorum, tamen credere uiros fortes esse quorum auxilium a Clusinis in re trepida sit imploratum; et quoniam legatione aduersus se maluerint quam armis tueri socios, ne se quidem pacem quam illi adferant aspernari, si Gallis egentibus agro, quem latius possideant quam colant Clusini, partem finium concedant; aliter pacem impetrari non posse. Et responsum coram Romanis accipere uelle et si negetur ager, coram iisdem Romanis dimicaturos, ut nuntiare domum possent quantum Galli uirtute ceteros mortales praestarent. Quodnam id ius esset agrum a possessoribus petere aut minari arma Romanis quaerentibus et quid in Etruria rei Gallis esset, cum illi se in armis ius ferre et omnia fortium uirorum esse ferociter dicerent, accensis utrimque animis ad arma discurritur et proelium conseritur. Ibi iam urgentibus Romanam urbem fatis legati contra ius gentium arma capiunt. Nec id clam esse potuit cum ante signa Etruscorum tres nobilissimi fortissimique Romanae iuuentutis pugnarent; tantum eminebat peregrina uirtus. quin etiam Q. Fabius, euectus extra aciem equo, ducem Gallorum, ferociter in ipsa signa Etruscorum incursantem, per latus transfixum hasta occidit; spoliaque eius legentem Galli agnouere, perque totam aciem Romanum legatum esse signum datum est. Omissa inde in Clusinos ira, receptui canunt minantes Romanis. Erant qui extemplo Romam eundum censerent; uicere seniores, ut legati prius mitterentur questum iniurias postulatumque ut pro iure gentium uiolato Fabii dederentur. Legati Gallorum cum ea sicut erant mandata exposuissent, senatui nec factum placebat Fabiorum et ius postulare barbari uidebantur; sed ne id quod placebat decerneretur in tantae nobilitatis uiris ambitio obstabat. Itaque ne penes ipsos culpa esset cladis forte Gallico bello acceptae, cognitionem de postulatis Gallorum ad populum reiciunt; ubi tanto plus gratia atque opes ualuere ut quorum de poena agebatur tribuni militum consulari potestate in insequentem annum crearentur. Quo facto haud secus quam dignum erat infensi Galli bellum propalam minantes ad suos redeunt. Tribuni militum cum tribus Fabiis creati Q. Sulpicius Longus Q. Seruilius quartum P. Cornelius Maluginensis.